Myanmar’s deposed leader, Suu Kyi, faces secrets law charge

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Myanmar’s deposed leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, has been charged with breaking a colonial-era official secrets law, the most serious charge against the veteran opponent of military rule.

 file photograph taken on December 11, 2019, of Myanmar's State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi

Myanmar’s deposed leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, in December 2019. Photo: AFP

Myanmar has been rocked by protests since the army overthrew Suu Kyi’s elected government on 1 February, citing unsubstantiated claims of fraud in a November election that her party swept.

In a new measure to stifle communication about the turmoil, the junta ordered internet service providers to shut down wireless broadband services until further notice, several telecoms sources said.

Suu Kyi and other members of her National League for Democracy (NLD) have been detained since the coup. The junta had earlier accused her of several minor offences, including illegally importing six handheld radios and breaching coronavirus protocols.

Her chief lawyer, Khin Maung Zaw, told Reuters that Suu Kyi, three of her deposed cabinet ministers and a detained Australian economic adviser, Sean Turnell, were charged a week ago in a Yangon court under the official secrets law, adding he learned of the new charge two days ago.

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A conviction under the law can carry a prison sentence of up to 14 years.

A spokesman for the junta did not answer telephone calls seeking comment.

Suu Kyi, who is 75 and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for her efforts to bring democracy to Myanmar, appeared via video link for a hearing in connection with the earlier charges on Thursday. Another of her lawyers, Min Min Soe, said she appeared to be in good health.

“Amay Su and President U Win Myint are in good health,” the lawyer said, referring to Suu Kyi by an affectionate term for mother. The president, a Suu Kyi ally, was also deposed and detained in the coup. He faces various charges.

– Reuters

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